horse racing

What you should have learned from the 2015 Cheltenham Festival…

11 vital facts you need to take away from the 2015 Cheltenham Festival

You’re suffering from Cheltenham Festival withdrawal symptoms. I know you are.

How do I know? Because I’m the same! It’s like a four day hangover. It may well stretch to a week hangover. Hell it may even rumble on to a three and a bit week hangover! That’s how long it is until the next major National Hunt meetings take place, in the shape of the Irish National meeting at Fairyhouse and then the three day Grand National meeting at Aintree.

But don’t worry. I have a fix. A temporary fix but it should make the Cheltenham comedown a little easier.

The pounding headache and the sandpaper dry mouth have slowly started to relent, the dust has begun to settle and I’ve had a deep root around into my Proform database with a (moderately) refreshed brain to see what the figures from Cheltenham 2015 tell us.

Here are some of the important conclusion I have come to regarding the 2015 Cheltenham Festival…

*Statistical analysis sourced from the excellent Proform Professional database


2015 Cheltenham Festival: The Fallout…


Walsh and Mullins were in dominant form…

Yeah no sh!t Ben!

It was one of the defining aspects of this festival and they positively ran riot on day one, winning three of the races and ‘throwing away’ another with a last flight fall.

The pairings overall figures for the four days ended up like this…

4 winners from 17 runners | 24% S/R | -£7.37 BFLSP – Win & Place 7/17 | 41% S/R

No surprise that they actually returned an overall loss on the four days, they were heavily backed a lot of the time and their winners were hardly surprise results.

The bare figures, however, are not really what I want to highlight here. I want to dig just a little bit deeper.

Here are the pairs figures in fields of 12 or less…

4/6 | 67% S/R | +£3.63 BFLSP – Win & Place 5/6 | 83% S/R

That equated to a form line of 111341. All 4 winners for the partnership came in fields of 12 or less, from a group of only six runners. All six actually almost placed as the 4th placed runner – Adriana Des Mottes – was only a head away from 4th spot.

That’s nothing if not dominant and when others run scared of the power duo they don’t make a mistake, they hit the jackpot with unerring ease. If they get breathing space they will assert power and do it in style.

Come on owners and trainers! Don’t run scared of one duo. Power in numbers can get them beat. If you give them an ‘easy’ time they will crucify you!!


The Gold Cup once again went the way of a dosage strong contender…

Coneygree is, rightly so, the story of the week. To win the blue riband of the jumping game in such a fashion off the back of only three chase starts was nothing short of outstanding.

I didn’t back him myself (I was a Road To Riches man) but on my figures I wasn’t shocked by the outcome, he was joint-second on my final figures and he had the correct Dosage figures to do the job.

Five of the 16 Gold Cup runners had bang ideal Dosage Figures for the demanding test and that group provided the winner – CONEYGREE – and the third placed horse – ROAD TO RICHES.

To be fair to the runner-up – DJAKADAM – his figures were only a whisper away from being spot on for the race parameters, they were certainly not a negative for his chances.

For the record the Dosage figures of the first three home in this demanding test are…

CONEYGREE – 0-1-2-2-5 (10) | 0.25 | -1.10

DJAKADAM –0-1-7-2-0 (10) | 0.82 | -0.10

ROAD TO RICHES – 1-0-7-2-4 (14) | 0.47 | -0.57

The Gold Cup is easily one of the strongest races on the calender when it comes to the Dosage Angle and year after year the figures hold up.

Coneygree is very much in the Denman mold in that he is laden with stamina influences and uses them to crucify others off the front-end, continually turning the screw and leaving a trail of broken horses in his wake. He has the Dosage figures to keep on grinding and those types are always extremely hard to pass.

Can the Bradstock’s keep Coneygree sound and at his peak to fend off all-comers in the 2016 Gold Cup?


Front-runners landed an extraordinary amount of victories…

The festival is a hard place to make all and win from the front. Well it used to be! This year it seemed like the only place to be!!

Eight of the festivals 27 winners went from the front and held on for Cheltenham glory.

They were…


The overall stats for front-runners at the 2015 festival look like this…

8/32 | 25% S/R | +£43.41 BFLSP – Win & Place 15/32 | 47% S/R

Hell almost 50% held on to be placed!

The last few festivals have produced the following number of front-running winners…

2014 – 1

2013 – 3

2012 – 2

2011 – 2

2010 – 2

As you can see this year showed a significant increase based on recent festivals.

Indeed front-runners at this years festival were striking 168% above expectation!!

The reason for this? Hard to be exact about it to be fair.

There was word that the fences were slightly softer this year but that only (potentially) accounts for the chasers (and doesn’t conclusively account for the chasers).

I personally would not have expected so many front-runners to have been hitting the mark but it is certainly something to keep in mind for next year.

Are front-runners about to become a dominant force at the festival?


Leopardstown AGAIN proved to be a hot warm-up track…

Admittedly it provided the (joint) most amount of runners of any last time out track but the figures are still worth noting…

7/55 | 13% S/R | -£5.97 BFLSP – Win & Place 18/55 | 33% S/R – 49% above expectation 

1 in 3 runners that warmed up for their Cheltenham target at Leopardstown placed; that’s very eye-catching.

Overall you would have recorded a loss if backing all the qualifiers, however, one simple filter brings you bang into profit…

Top three finish at Leopardstown last time out

7/35 | 20% S/R | +£13.88 BFLSP – Win & Place 15/35 | 43% S/R

That angle has now produced a profit at the last FIVE Cheltenham Festivals!!

*Profits and strike-rates improve further when only looking at those that ran in NON-HANDICAPS last time out at Leopardstown.

Keep a close eye on any ‘top three last time out Leopardstown finishers’ at next years festival! 


The German (GER) and American (USA) bred hurdlers again failed to deliver…

Very few took up the challenge this time around, maybe owners and trainers are starting to realise it a fruitless task!

Here are the figures of those GER & USA bred runners that did attempt the ‘impossible’…

0/5 | 0% S/R | -£5.00 BFLSP – Win & Place 1/5 | 20% S/R

Arctic Fire again tried his best to beat the hoodoo but he once again had to settle for silver.

There is just something this sub-set of hurdlers do not enjoy about the festival environment…


None of the 19 horses that stepped up from a handicap into a non-handicap managed to win…

It’s a mightily hard task and time after time these types keep coming up short.

The figures for this years festival look like this…

0/19 | 0% S/R | -£19.00 BFLSP – Win & Place 2/16 | 11% S/R

Notable runners to succumb to the angle this year were…


If we look at this angle from the last seven festivals we get a supremely poor…

2/215 | 1% S/R | -£198.20 BFLSP – Win & Place 25/215 | 12% S/R

If you are gunning for a non-handicap race at the Cheltenham Festival then your warm-up NEEDS to have been away from handicap company.


Ten of the 16 winners of festival non-handicap races WON last time out…

In fact 13 of the 16 winners finished in the top 2 last time out.

They win pretty much what the market expects them to and you couldn’t back all qualifiers and make a profit (you would have made a hefty -£53.42 loss this year to be fair!) but it’s still something to keep in mind and a winning warm-up should not be underestimated.

The obvious starting point is sometimes the best starting point.

On the other hand…

Only three of the 11 handicap winners finished in the top two last time out…

Producing figures of…

3/79 | 4% S/R | -£27.09 BFLSP – Win & Place 17/79 | 22% S/R

Clearly there was a bit of ‘hiding the full hand from the handicapper’ going on with the final start pre-festival, making things a little bit trickier for us punters.

The net had to be stretched far and wide in search of those handicap winners.


Horses running in the Festival Grade 1’s off the back off a 75 day or longer break struggled…

Those runners that were prepped at home for their festival race struggled to land a significant blow in the Grade 1’s…

1/33 | 3% S/R | -£26.80 BFLSP – Win & Place 6/33 | 18% S/R

MOON RACER in the bumper was the only runner to win a top race off a lengthy break. That’s possibly a significant pointer to the horse’s ability and something that shouldn’t be underestimated. It’s very hard to win at the festival without some recent match practice however the Pipe inmate brushed aside his opposition in style.

Keep Moon Racer firmly on the radar, his bumper win is better than it looks.

In the same vain…

Horses running in the Festival Grade 1’s off the back off a 30 day or shorter break also struggled…

Whilst recent match practice is necessary it’s important that it wasn’t so close to the festival that the effects of the race may still be being felt…

0/32 | 0% S/R | -£32.00 BFLSP – Win & Place 4/32 | 13% S/R

There were some notable runners trying to slot in a last minute warm-up in the month leading up to the festival and that seems to have worked against them this term. Sire De Grugy is the stand out runner on this angle as Gary Moore’s stable-star had to head to the Chepstow mud after his Game Spirit Chase slip-up and that run, despite him recording an eye-catching win, may have just left him short for his title defense.

Running in one of the Festival Grade 1’s off the back of a very recent run was not a profitable move this season.


That Cross-Country Chase once again turned out to be a right B@st*rd of a race!!

Anyone who read my email in the days leading up to the festival will know I was very keen on the chances of QUANTITATIVEEASING in this. He ticked plenty of boxes for me and the 10-1 looked a cracking bet. I was confident of at least snaring the E/W spoils.

During the race my confidence grew and grew that I would be collecting the lot. Nina Carberry was giving the 10yo an absolute peach of a ride and approaching the second last obstacle they were just about to cruise into the lead and take their shot at glory.

…and then…DISASTER!!!

The French horse – Toutancarmont – decided to take a massive jink to his left and BANG! just like that my Cross Country dreams were over. Quanty and Nina were carried out and it was game over. To make things even more dramatic a photographer got injured in the process (who hopefully is now doing fine).

All round it was a sore one.

Would Quanty have definitely won? I like to think so. Nina Carberry was riding the horse to perfection. He was still on the bridle and poised to strike. He had Any Currency well and truly covered and he finished 2 lengths second.

It was daylight friggin robbery!!

The Cross Country Chase remains a right B@st*rd!!


Further Cheltenham Analysis…

In the down-time between Cheltenham and Aintree I’ll be producing another FREE NTF guide for members of the NTF FREE list.

I want to take an early look at the 2016 Cheltenham Gold Cup as already it looks like it could bean absolute cracker of a renewal.

If you are on the free list already then you will get the link to the guide in your inbox shortly.

If you are not on the list then simply visit the following link…

>>>Join the NTF Free service and get your eye in for the 2016 Cheltenham Gold Cup!

Ben (NTF)

Figures sourced from the excellent Proform Professional database

Proform Racing | The professional Formbook

11 responses to “What you should have learned from the 2015 Cheltenham Festival…”

  1. That’s a dodgy stat. in truth re Dajkadam, because without the presence of Coneygree, his move from a h’cap to a G1 would have been successful. No wonder Ruby found it hard to bear, because for others trainers the RSA was the right route to go. But the Bradstocks pulled Willie’s plan apart.

    • I dunno Chris, I wouldn’t say 2/215 over the past 7 years marks it up as a dodgy stat myself.

      Sure only 1 horse beat him but at the end of the day it chalked up another loss for those moving up from handicaps, proving just how difficult it is.

      Unlucky with your treble though. I was also a Southfield Theatre man, though he jumped brilliantly, apart from landing on four out! Possibly just knocked enough out of him to stifle his finishing kick.

      Ben (NTF)

  2. PS My festival would have been even better if Southfield Theatre had won as I had a £10 EW treble with Windsor Park and Aux P’tit Soins. Bank up 50% nonetheless

  3. You said Moon Racer ws the only horse to win a grade 1 off a lengthy break. What about the stats buster Faugheen?

    • Hi Roddo

      Faugheen ran just within the cut-off point.

      I wouldn’t have called him a stats buster myself, sure he went against a couple of trends but most runners do.

      Ben (NTF)

  4. Interesting analysis Ben I thought Vautour was fabulously impressive if he has the right dosage profile! Paddy power 20/1 qoute for mullins to win all 4 championship races dependent on Willie Mullins finding a top drawer staying hurdler ss he seems reluctant to return Annie Power to 3m he has awesome firepower for next year in the other divisions with vautour and Don Poli GC the front two plus douvan for ch hurdle and Un de Seaux.q m

    • Hi DJ

      Vautour was very impressive. His Dosage is OK for the Gold Cup, not perfect but certainly not a negative.

      You are right about Mullins and the World Hurdle, no obvious contender and unlikely he will re-route Annie there.

      He has so much firepower though you would think there would be something in there…

      Ben (NTF)

  5. Bloody Quantitiveasing!

    Djakadam also had the 6yo stat to overcome. RTR put in a great run though and was happy with a solid eachway.

    • I know Paul, Quanty was a painful one for us…

      Was a big run from RTR and maybe just trying to keep tabs on Coneygree left him a little bit short for that final push to the line.

      Cheers – Ben (NTF)

  6. Hi Ben,

    I think the front runner stat is really interesting. I backed Cole Harden so that was nice, but what was interesting is that that horse had been a little bit of a short runner in its earlier runs this season.

    It came to light before the meeting that the horse had a breathing op so that was a big pointer. It will be interesting if the horse turns up at Aintree and Zarkander renews rivalry. I would still be with Cole Harden on a track that will likely suit it even more.



    • Hi Roger

      Yes breathing op clearly worked wonders for Cole Harden. I agree he looked to be struggling a bit at times to see out his races on occasion this term, breathing op clearly had a big effect.

      You would assume Cole & Zark renew rivalry at Aintree, a hot race in prospect!

      Ben (NTF)

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